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Where to Start When Creating an Employee Recognition Program

Here at Dion, we know just how valuable a recognition program can be. However, many businesses don’t know where to start when implementing one. It may seem like a daunting task, but by keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be on your way to a stronger company culture with employees who feel appreciated.

Clarify Your Vision

The best place to start when creating a new program is defining what you want. Gather your team and create a mission statement. Why exactly are you starting a recognition program? Then define what exactly you want your reward program to do, and what you want it to avoid. What will qualify as “award worthy” behavior? Be as specific as possible when doing this. By defining your vision for the program upfront, you’re creating a strong base to build upon. When creating the rest of your program, these definitions and goals will be easy to refer back to and keep your team on the same page.

Get Employee Input

When awarding your employees, it’s important to offer an award that they’ll actually want! Take some time to chat with your employees and ask them what kind of awards appeal to them. This will give you some great information to use in your program development, and your employees will appreciate being asked first. If you have a larger company and you can’t get around to every employee, you could send out a quick survey instead. As a custom award jewelry company, we know that recognition is all about creating a personal and meaningful moment of gratitude with each awardee.

Make it Trackable

One of the biggest obstacles companies face when running their recognition programs is consistency. To avoid over-awarding someone and under-awarding another, the criteria for achieving an award must be crystal clear, trackable, and monitored. It’s important to remember that some metrics are easier to keep track of than others. Sales numbers, years of service, or safe miles driven are all easy numbers to keep track of. If your company would like to use positive customer feedback or peer-to-peer kudos as a metric, make sure that these avenues are easy and accessible for people to contribute to. Employees shouldn’t miss out on awards because the system was too difficult to navigate.

Make it Visible

A great feature of recognition programs is that one person’s performance may inspire another person to achieve the same goal. While privately and quietly thanking an employee provides an intimate and personal form of recognition, make sure that the achievement is also announced to the company in some way. At Dion, we have a “Diamond Award” that goes to employees who go above and beyond. Recipients are nominated by their peers and their achievement is announced in our company-wide newsletter and posted to our “Diamond Award Board.” We also have a “Kaizen Board” where everyone can view the various process improvements people have made. Oftentimes employees will get inspired to make their own improvements after seeing the kaizens on the board. Making these achievements visible is a great way to keep morale up and help everyone see what a great team they are part of.


Recognition programs help increase employee retention, productivity, positive customer interactions, and overall morale. However, a poorly implemented program can have the opposite effect. By beginning with specific definitions, consulting your employees, and creating a visible, trackable system, your company will have loads to celebrate.


By Aubrey Dion

Aubrey Dion is proud to be back working for the family business she grew up in. Over the years, she has performed a wide variety of jobs in both the office and factory, becoming a true "jack of all trades." Aubrey credits her quick learning ability to her strong theatre background, where memorization and attention to detail are vital. Working in the marketing department allows her to stay creative and work on exciting new projects for the company.


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